May 29, 2015
I’m sitting in the cafe at the airstrip in Kangerlussuaq, the main port of entry for most folks coming in to Greenland. I believe this is the only place with daily, year round service from Europe – a single “Mothership” Airbus 330, making the run daily from Copenhagen. There’s a lot of patchy snow in the vicinity – forgot May is still pretty cold here, having come from blossom time in Scandanavia.
I immediately ran into microbiologist Marek Stibal, who is already here camping not far away, taking sediment samples to flesh out the picture of biological activity on the ice.
In about 90 minutes I’ll take another hop to Ilulissat, site of a major Arctic conference next week, where I hope to catch up with a number of very active scientists. Jason Box is an organizer of the event, and we’ll join up in a few days.
My task this summer is to get as many interviews as possible, as well as shoot a lot of additional footage – and to that end, I’ll be staying in some visually stunning places – Ilulissat for one, and in a week, a place called Uummannaq.
More on this later, once I get settled in Ilulissat.
May 29, 2015
LUCKNOW: The intense heat wave condition that is sweeping across India currently could be another manifestation of an extreme weather event, said researchers from the New Delhi-based research and advocacy organisation, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), in a statement on Thursday. About 2,000 people have been killed in India by this weather condition. In the worst-affected states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, maximum temperatures have hovered around a searing 45 degrees Celsius.
According to Arjuna Srinidhi, programme manager, climate change, CSE: “Urban heat island effects can make ambient temperatures feel 3 to 4 degrees more than what they are.” Srinidhi added “Compared to 2010, heat wave conditions in 2015 so far have been of a shorter duration, yet with a higher death toll. This could be due to the sudden change in temperatures after a prolonged wet February and March that had kept the temperatures cool.”
Climate records show that human-induced global warming had turned 2014 into the hottest year on record. Eight out of the 10 warmest years in India were during the recent past decade (2001-2010), making it the warmest decade on record with a decadal mean temperature anomaly of 0.49 °C.
CSE climate researchers say more heat waves were expected as globally temperatures had risen by an average 0.8 degrees in the past 100 years. Night-time temperatures are rising too, with Ahmedabad and Delhi recently reporting 39 and 36 degrees centigrade. “The number of heat wave days may go up from about 5 to between 30 and 40 every year,” they add.
There is also enough evidence of extreme weather events being on the rise. “This year, we saw the wettest March in about 50 years, and we have already seen the second major flood in Kashmir in a period of six months. These are all extreme weather events,” says Srinidhi.
Surfaces of some roads in Delhi have melted in the sun, twisting the paintwork of pedestrian crossings into unusual patterns.
Temperatures often rise sharply in May before the onset of torrential monsoon rains but scientists say average temperatures are only likely to rise in the years ahead as a result of global warming, with damaging effects on health and productivity. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m on travel this week, so pinch hitting on posts where possible. These are some highlights:
500 Year Floods aren’t as unusual as they used to be.
In India, Spring Heat wave melts roads and claims lives.
Meanwhile, 2015 seems on track to erase 2014 as the hottest year in the modern record.
The uninterrupted continuation of the warming trend is no surprise. The 10 warmest years on record have occurred in the past 17 years.
And though the rise in the last 10 years has been gentle by comparison, since 1910, the clear trend has been up,according to NASA’s Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index.
In the latter two thirds of that time, warming and the effects on climate have been epochal, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.”
That new March record
March 2015 edged past the last record high March, which was in 2010, rising by 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit (0.05 C). Average global land and water temperatures for the first quarter of this year beat the last record first quarter, 2002, by the same margin.
Yet another broken record this March was more obvious to the eye. The expanse of Arctic sea ice shrunk to an absolute low for any March on record.
“The average Arctic sea ice extent for March was 430,000 square miles (7.2 percent) below the 1981–2010 average. This was the smallest March extent since records began in 1979,” NOAA said.
Small gains, large net loss
On the other end of the globe — in the Antarctic — sea ice has been on the gain, and this year, it hit a record March high.
But globally, the overall result is a big net loss. “The upward trend in the Antarctic … is only about a third of the magnitude of the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean,” according to NASA.
E&E Energy Wire (paywalled):
The record-breaking warm weather that has hit northern Alaska this spring is causing severe flooding on the 435-mile Dalton Highway, severing the profitable North Slope oil production fields from the rest of the state. Read the rest of this entry »
From the series of interviews that now make up John Cook’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on understanding, and confronting, Climate Denial.
May 26, 2015
Since “Frankenstein”, a consistent theme in speculative fiction has been the technological leap that turns on mankind.
Since the advent of the nuclear age, that theme is not only credible, but obvious.
Two of this summer’s biggest movies so far are “The Age of Ultron”, where the villain is a runaway artificial intelligence, and the Mad Max sequel, “Fury Road”, set in a climate altered future. “Fury Road” has been particularly well reviewed, with a spectacular 98 percent rating on the “Rotten Tomatoes” website.
Deniers predictably uncomfortable.
While the original Mad Max, starring now-tarnished Hollywood megastar Mel Gibson, took place in an Australia ravaged by energy crisis and lawlessness, 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road deals with a not-too-distant future dealing with the effects of climate change. The film stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, who recently, at the film’s gala premier in Cannes, drew the connections between our current inaction on climate change and the horrific future of Fury Road:
It felt very grounded in real events. The idea of globalization and global warming and drought and the value of water, and leadership becoming completely out of hand.
. . . there are images on Google right now of Sahara desert sand being blown, in that state, all through Africa. And that’s frightening. The hair lifted up on the back of my neck. What makes [the film] even scarier is that it is something that is not far off if we don’t pull it together.
(The far right news site) Breitbart is alarmed about the cli-fi trend.
The recent election results in Alberta were a shock to the Canadian Oil patch, including bigwigs in charge of the planet-killing Tar Sands extraction projects underway there. Add in to that the Pope’s eminent “encyclical” letter that will make climate change a priority for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, and you understand why Oil giants are scrambling to find an alternative to stone walling on climate change solutions. I’ve posted on the recent declarations by executives at BP and Shell in regard to climate and a carbon tax. Last week, Steve William, CEO of Suncor, one of the biggest Tar Sands players, declared that climate change was real, could not be ignored, and invited the new Alberta Government to come up with a carbon tax plan. Belatedly, the Wall Street Journal has sniffed out a trend.
At the same time, some of these companies’ own shareholders are pushing them to scale back their dependence on carbon-based fuels, worried about the future financial impact of heightened global-warming regulation. The companies are also anticipating rules to limit emissions that would make oil and natural gas more expensive, potentially reducing demand for the fuels. This led to a change in behavior. Where in the past executives could be dismissive of the climate-change debate or leap to defend their companies, industry officials are now raising the issue themselves and proposing remedies such as the imposition of a carbon tax. “We have to stop being defensive,” Total SA Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanné told a major industry conference in Houston last month. “In the end, it won’t be solved by diplomacy only, but by private players, economic players like us.” Total, Saudi Aramco, Eni SpA, BG PLC, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and others have formed an industry group specifically to add their collective voice to the climate debate, and they are trying to bring other leading international oil and gas companies into the group. “Business is engaged in a way I’ve never seen before,” said Rachel Kyte, head of the climate-change division of the World Bank. – “The minute the word got out that the pope was working on this, we had a lot of people contributing,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who heads the Vatican office tasked with drafting the encyclical. “We listened to everybody who had something to say: physicians, academicians, students; people in all walks of life, including people from the oil industry.”